We are back from The Great Adventure! The weather could have been better but the islands were gorgeous, naturally. For those who are interested, here’s a brief history of our backpacking trip on the Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali Coast of Kauai.
April 2: We flew from PDX to Honolulu, then sat in the airport for three hours waiting for our inter-island fight to Lihue, Kauai.
Passing time in the Honolulu airport by playing Phase 10
Danny, Keith and I wished Becca goodbye (she was staying in HNL with her brother) and took a quick flight to Lihue. Backpacks arrived in one piece (a feat in and of itself) and we waited semi-anxiously by The Bus stop, hoping to be allowed to board with our packs. Turns out The Bus drivers are used to backpackers and we had no problem getting to the Land Called Hanalei for the staggeringly high price of $1.50 per person. Once on The Bus we even got a free tour of the island, as local residents told us about everything we passed on the hour and half drive. In Hanalei, The Bus driver even gave us instructions about the best place to stand in order to hitchhike to Ha’ena Beach Park. Darn helpful for a $1.50 fare, wouldn’t you say? I hitchhiked for the first time (though taking public transport in the Dominican Republic comes close) and it was really fun trying to get a ride. After about 20 minutes, someone stopped and let us ride the 5 or 6 miles to Ha’ena Beach Park in the back of her Tacoma. It was a windy night to camp on the beach, and we ended up sharing the covered shelter with a crowd of drunk homeless guys while we cooked dinner. They kept us awake late into the night with their god-awful saxophone playing and ukelele-plucking. Special.
|The Bus stop
||Success at thumbing a ride!
April 3: We woke up early (not difficult when the 10 million local roosters start crowing at 2:00 a.m.), cooked breakfast in the covered area with the homeless guys (or “houseless” as they informed us), and hit the road. It was about a mile walk up to Ke’e Beach, where the Kalalau Trailhead is. Our packs were only about 25 lbs each and we had trekking poles so it was an easy warmup. I was already loving my new Gregory Jade 50 backpack…so comfortable and breathable!
The Kalalau trail starts out steep, slick and muddy. I feel bad for all the unprepared dayhikers who attempt the first 2 miles in flip-flops. The views, however, are instantly rewarding. Within minutes we were high up on the cliffs of the Na Pali and could see the sparkling blue ocean far below. Humpback whales entertained us the whole trip by spouting, breaching, and slapping the water with their fins. Every corner we turned was another breathtaking sight. The trail is strenuous, but (in my opinion) well worth the hike if you’re in decent shape. We hammered out all 11 miles in about 9.5 hours, including stops for lunch. There a few spots where the trail is about 6 inches wide and the cliff drops off a couple hundred feet into the ocean. Hair-raising, but not too bad if you don’t look down!
At the Kalalau Trailhead
The view on the first mile
Keith crossing Hanakapiai River
Entering the Kalalau Valley under a full rainbow
The tired Wicked Witch of the East
Sweet little campsite on the beach
April 4: Bathed in a bikini under a waterfall, lay on the beach all day reading a good book, walked along the beach, explored some beach caves, hung out with fellow campers and discussed the “spiritual pizza” that the Kalalau Valley hippys make, fell asleep to the sound of breaking waves on the beach.
geeky sunbathing...immersed in a novel
Keith bodysurfing off Kalalau Beach
April 5: We woke up at oh dark:thirty and packed our stuff, wolfed down some granola and hit the trail. We left lots of time on the trip out so that we would have plenty of chance to take breaks. No one was hurting, but a few of us were nursing blisters and were naturally a little more tired on the way out. The hike was peachy, Keith took a bazillion pictures, and I took personal pride that I was easily out-distancing dayhikers on the last mile of the trek. It rained Big-Time on the last hour, as if the trail wasn’t muddy enough to begin with.
We wearily walked the mile of road back to Ha’ena Beach Park and pitched our tents in gale-force winds and sheets of rain. I have to admit, that last night was not my idea of a party. The tent was about to blow away with us in it and it sprung a couple leaks around midnight. I kept thinking, “This CANNOT be Hawaii. Why did I ever leave Oregon for THIS?”
April 6: Keith flagged down a surfer (hitting the waves before work…is that the sweet life or what?!) and he took us into Hanalei in his pickup. Seriously, people in Kauai are so friendly! Big fatty Hawaiian breakfast, brush the teeth with running water in a mall bathroom, and jump on The Bus. Back to Lihue in plenty of time and we jumped on our inter-island flight back to sunny Honolulu. Becca met us at the airport and we rented cars. They scored a great deal on a hotel room in Waikiki, while we did laundry, had dinner at Tiki’s and then sauntered over to the North Shore to our campsite at Malaekahana in Laie.
April 7: Woke early with the roosters (they’re freaking EVERYWHERE!) and heeding The Hunger, betook ourselves to the Hukilau Cafe in Laie. Besides being the only breakfast joint in Laie (unless you count McDonald’s which local construction workers do, but I don’t) the service and food is fabulous. I totally recommend this place for a huge plate of LocoMoco if you ever find yourself in Laie!
We drove up to Waimea Bay and sunbathed on the beach, while observing 20-30 ft waves crashing literally onto the beach. People were actually attempting to boogie-board in that surf…an exercise in futility and a death wish, in my opinion. I got a lubbly tan. Dinner that night was at Lucy’s Grill & Bar in Kailua, the site of our date while staying with Grandma & Tom in 2004. Some of the best food I’ve ever had in my life!!
Shave Ice in Haleiwa town
The Hukilau Cafe
April 8: Ate breakfast at the Hukilau again! Then we drove around the island and went snorkeling in Hanauma Bay, which was fun but the water was kinda cold and I got a little freaked out because I kept swallowing salt water. Somewhere in the middle of all this, I got a phonecall from A Company That Shall Remain Anonymous Online Until Such Time as I Receive a Job Offer, asking me to swing by for a little ol’ interview. Panic ensued while I shopped desperately at Kanoehe Macy’s for interview appropriate dress clothes. Did you know that Hawaiian Macy’s sell Muu-muu’s? In spades. Frightening.
After adding dress pants and black pumps to my backpacking wardrobe, we continued on to Honolulu and ate dinner with Danny and Becca. Wandered around the elegant shops of Waikiki and drank overpriced cocktails on the strip. I have no pictures of any of this, for some unexplained reason, so use your imagination.
April 9: I got up at 5:20 a.m. and showered outside in the dark. Let us pause for a moment and marvel at the resourcefulness of a woman who can dress for an interview at a campground in the dark. Dress shirt, dress pants, high heels, necklace, hair and makeup….who needs a bathroom and a vanity mirror?!? We booked it to the site of my interview (an hour’s drive) and I spent 2 great hours there. I even hiked around in a field in my pumps. I’m not sure if that made a good or bad impression…I’ll keep ya’ll posted.
Immediately after the interview, we ran to the airport and made it just in time to board our flight to PDX. It was a fun and eventful trip, if not entirely relaxing. Thanks to everyone who prayed for our safety on the Kalalau Trail, and for my job interview!
I started this trip in backpacking gear and finished it in dress clothes!